My journey has not been easy, but it has led me to joy and lifelong lessons that future doctors and current physicians can learn from
My journey to becoming a successful woman in medicine has not been the typical one. Although I always knew I wanted to be a physician, my path was far from straightforward. Intercultural differences—among multiple countries—were a constant problem. Even as I was working my way through those, I experienced a number of traumatic major life events, including the pandemic, and succeeded as a resident doctor with a small child and a newborn. All of these experiences have made me a well-rounded doctor, mother, wife, family member, and friend. My journey has not been easy, but it has led me to joy and lifelong lessons. And it is my privilege to share those lessons with other Black women interested in entering the medical field.
The Common Challenge of Self-Doubt
It’s all too common to doubt yourself along the way. Being the first physician in my family, I often felt that I didn’t have the perfect roadmap to accomplish my goals. I usually felt like I didn’t have the right study materials or methods, but UWorld saved my career. As soon as I started studying with their exam preparation materials, everything clicked, helping me feel well-prepared and confident.
Connecting with Other ‘Others’
It has been incredibly powerful to me to learn that, as a black female physician, many of my patients easily relate to me. People from other diverse backgrounds are more likely, in general, to feel at ease to disclose honest health experiences because they identify me as someone who sympathizes with adversity and will take the time to listen. Getting the most open, honest communication is how I find I can best help a patient.
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The Importance of Self-Care
You can’t treat your patients well when you, as a doctor, are not at your best. Self-care is a critical priority; whether that means spending time outside or advocating for your needs even during busy or demanding periods. Find time for your family and interests outside of work, because being a doctor alone does not define you as a person. I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sibling and a reader. Make those things a priority in your life too, not just your work.
And ask for help when you need it, too. You’d be surprised by the resources and people that are available to assist you. One day, they may need your help, and you will be able to deliver, too!
Finding the Right Environment
It’s critical to find a work culture that genuinely works for you. For me, it was important to find a culture that supported me and my new family. The atmosphere we continue to build is a collective group of people who support each other’s needs and requests for help. When you’re interviewing for your first job or getting ready for a location change, investigate what the priorities are for that organization and how you might fit into it. If you don’t feel like a valued member of a collective and collaborative team, you may quickly find yourself burning out.
My community really came together for one another during the pandemic. Our staff families started childcare rotations to help each other. Professionally, we speak often about how to best serve our patients, particularly when dealing with people from diverse backgrounds. That connection and collaboration has proven critical to my success as a doctor.
Managing Life Events
Life-changing experiences and events will happen along the way. How you deal with them is critical. For example, I